Investigations Continue on Brian Hirzel / Scott Creach Shooting

The investigations into the shooting death of Scott Creach by Spokane Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel has been getting more interesting. As you recall Deputy Brian Hirzel shot the Spokane Valley pastor and business owner on August 25th, after Hirzel arrived at Creach’s business to check on reports of a prowler. Deputy Hirzel was in uniform but in an unmarked car when Scott Creach confronted him. The deputy reported that he directed Creach to drop the gun, and Creach put the gun in his waistband, but still approached him. The deputy reports that he struck Creach with a baton when the man refused to get down. The family contests this version of events.

Since the shooting, more has come out about the officer in questions. Apparently a private investigator for the Creach family and Spokesman-Review reporters are interviewing the same people in this case. In an interesting story in the Spokesman-Review, reporter Thomas Clouse reports that Hirzel had been involved in to prior use-of-force incidents when he was an officer in Cathedral City, California.  When employed with Cathedral City, Hirzel was cleared for a fatal application of a chokehold. But in another incident, the Cathedral City had to shell out $10,000 to settle a suit in which Hirzel shot someone’s dog.  Dog shootings by police aren’t so rare, but the circumstances of this instance was just plain odd. Apparently Hirzel, responded to the scene where a man had had a heart attack and he entered the home.  While the wife performed CPR on her husband, Hirzel took issue with the couple’s golden retriever and shot it.  The shooting occurred indoors apparently spattering blood all over the walls and the floor.   An incident like this really makes you wonder about that deputy Brian Hirzel.

On the other hand though, I can’t say that I agree with every criticism that has been made of Hirzel.  People have questioned whether or not Hirzel really did try to stop Scott Creach with his baton prior to using deadly force.  Skeptics point to the fact that the deceased never had any bruising that would corroborate this claim.  Fair enough.  But in one news story, it was the Creach family that apparently made the point that “…no fibers from Creach’s pants were found on Hirzel’s baton and no crush marks were found in Creach’s pants to indicate any type of baton strike.”   I sure have never heard of any science that would support the notion that the application of a baton against a clothed person would leave cloth fibers on the baton or “crush marks” on the clothes.   In forensic science there is a thing called “Locard’s Exchange Principle” supporting the idea that with contact between two items there will be an evidentiary exchange.  But I really think that would be pretty theoretical when it comes to detecting fibers on a baton.  The baton surface just isn’t  rough enough to pull individual fibers from fabric.  I can maybe see this happening with a roughly cut two-by-four, but I just haven’t seen this come up very often.  Additionally, I have never heard of any science that would support the idea that batons or any other blunt instrument would leave “crush marks” on fabric.  If anyone has any thoughts on that subject I sure would want to learn more about that.

What do you think about this incident?  Was it appropriate for Spokane County to hire Brian Hirzel after his history of using force in California?  Do you predict that any criminal charges will come of this incident?

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6 Responses to “Investigations Continue on Brian Hirzel / Scott Creach Shooting”

  • Elise:

    Yeah, that’s some farfetched csi stuff if they think they will find fiber evidence on a police baton. Under Locard’s principle my basketball will have “floor” evidence from every YMCA I have ever played in.

  • Jack Cates:

    For someone who tries to portray some objectivity your bias is obvious. This is evident by your use of rumor over facts, and your public ridicule of someone and something you know nothing about.

    Here are some facts (yes, facts) your readers may find interesting IF they really want to know about Hirzel. He NEVER used a chokehold on the person who died in Cathedral City. His involvment was giving the man CPR after the man went into full arrest because of prior health problems, the lethal amount method he ingested, and his fighting with OTHER officers (not Hirzel).

    How this got turned into Hirzel choking him is obvious: The truth doesn’t help the media, family, attorneys or anyone else who wants to profit from this incident. So, skew it to fit and ruin the cop.

    Want the FACTS of the dog shooting? Someone post interest in them and i will provide.

  • Jonah:

    I think the blog post itself is fine, but the photo in sensationalistic as hell. I am sure Hirzel didn’t snipe the canine at a long distance when the dog’s tongue was hanging out.

  • Steve Graham:

    Whatever Jonah, you just wish you had my mad photoshop skillz

  • R. Goldstein:

    This investigation from the beginning was corrupted!
    If you had read the “official” interview of Ofcr H you could see that his statements are contradictory, the questions are leading and NO follow up on important issues that need clarification by the “investigators” about the shooting.
    The issues are ,, did the ofcr act improperly or was the shooting a “good” shooting, and what about the following investigation , is it credible?????
    The inside culture of this investigation is like having a good friend grading your homework or final..

    These matters should be outsourced to get away from personal bias or “buddies” conducting the investigation…
    For the sake of Spokane and the whole area there needs to be an open and credible agency to investigate this possible miscarriage of justice..

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Photo of Steve Graham Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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